Saturday, May 19, 2012
As Above, So Below, Part 1
In a little different direction today, there are correspondences, or correlations, between the number cards and the Major Arcana. It's said that the first ten Majors 'govern' their respective numbers, and are a more generalized representation of the number cards, or Minor Arcana. It's an interesting idea, and worth exploring. But of course, one is left wondering, where in the Majors do we start? We have The Fool, numbered 0, and the Magician, numbered 1. Well, to take a page again from this line of thought, it's often thought that the Fool is kind of a stand-alone card- some people argue that it doesn't have a number- well, technically, zero is a number, but it seems to make more sense to begin with assigning the Aces to the Magician. Remember also that in the Tarot, we have the Major Arcana representing more abstract ideas and concepts- some Platonists might say on a higher level of reality, while the Minor Arcana represent more day-to-day events- things that happen to us more directly.
So to begin, we find first the Aces falling under the Magician. Let's take a common image of the Magician for further inquiry:
I like Bob Veon's take on the Magician shown here, but the important thing to focus on at this point is the table in front of the Magician. Here we have the symbols of the four suits- the Pentacle, the Sword, the Wand and the Cup. These things are collected on the table for the Magician to make use of; similarly, the Aces represent the potentials of their respective suits. The Magician can pick up any of these tools, throw them away, use them to harm himself or others, or work some great magic with them. It's up to him. And here we see a similar message- the Magician represents the use of resources, and the Aces themselves represent those resources coming into our lives. We too, also, can choose what we wish to do with these resources.
The Twos, then, fall under the High Priestess. Unlike the Magician, we don't see the symbols laid out in the actual design of the card, but keep in mind that the High Priestess is often shown with two pillars behind her, reflecting the duality we see in the Twos.
Here is the Two of Wands- I rely pretty heavily on the Rider-Waite deck and its imagery on this blog, but find that it's fairly easy to interpret and understand. The Twos represent first and foremost, potential and decision- making. Moving beyond the Aces, we now have possibilities to consider- which way to go, what do we do now? The Twos indicate that a path has been chosen, and we have put the resources of the Aces to work on our own designs. Now, as we begin the first phases of the plan, we find that the first decisions come to us, and our first options. The path here exists in potential, not yet reality. Yet depending on which option or choice we make, the outcome will be based on that decision- pre-determined, in a way. And this is an aspect of the High Priestess- she represents hidden knowledge, and knows where these two (or more) options can lead us, but we ourselves cannot see that far ahead. It's up to us to rely on intuition and insight into what comes next, and, as we move down that road, work with new knowledge as it becomes available.
The Threes indicate the next step here- beyond that initial decision, we begin to see returns on our investment, so to speak. These could be thought of like the first shoots growing in a garden, and are similar in this way to the Empress. The Empress represents nurturing and support, and at the juncture represented by the Threes, this is what we have need of. The Empress tells of the support for an endeavor, which ultimately leads to further growth and expansion- also aspects of the Empress card.
The next card in the sequence is the Four- here we have structure and delineation- as in the Major Arcana, we see that there is a balance between growth and restriction, and the Fours represent the point at which the growth needs to be checked- that is, given structure and form, instead of just random chaotic growth. Both growth and structure are important for success- the structure gives direction and perhaps purpose to that growth, which is shown in the Emperor, representing rule and discipline.
The Four of Wands expresses this neatly- here we have a castle in the background, and it looks like a celebration, perhaps a success in life. The Four represents here represents structure, like the four corners of a foundation, or the four corners of a building. Without this structure, what kind of building would there have? Well, you could say a round building, but this too implies order and structure.
The Fives represent the first challenge to this new structure, or new development. Here the Fives correspond with the Hierophant in several ways. First, we have the conventional thought aspect of the Hierophant; we may find ourselves expanding beyond what we thought were limitations, or, when confronted with challenges, referring to a time-honored source of advice. Both of these are aspects of the Hierophant. Sorry, couldn't resist using this illustration from Paradigm Shift of London!
But again, we see the message of a teacher, good counsel and someone to provide a new perspective based on experience and wisdom. The message of both the Fives and of the Hierophant here is this- who do we turn to in times of crisis or challenge?
For the sake of brevity and readability, I'll cover the next five, six through ten, in a second entry. So far, we see a kind of "as above, so below" correspondence in the Tarot. While the Major Arcana represent the more abstract and far-reaching forces in our lives, the Minor Arcana, or number cards, represent the manifestations of these forces in our everyday, "mundane" lives.